For people with diabetes, monitoring blood glucose is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy. It is vital to monitor your blood sugar levels in order to determine the proper dosages of insulin and other medication. Monitoring glucose can also help you avoid drastic highs and lows.
Just what are you looking for when testing blood glucose? The American Diabetes Association (ADA) defines the following blood sugar ranges as acceptable:
|Before a meal (preprandial glucose)||After a meal (postprandial glucose)|
|80 – 130 mg/dl (3.9 – 7.2 mmol/l)||180 mg/dl (<10.0 mmol/l)*|
Proper technique is important when it comes to getting accurate results, so follow these steps when monitoring your blood sugar.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Prepare your glucose meter by placing a new diabetic test strip into the monitor. Popular test strips include the Accu-Chek AVIVA and Freestyle Lite brands, though many others are available.
- Choose a testing site, preferably on the side of your fingertip. Testing on an alternate site such as the upper arm, thigh, or palm is not generally recommended ;results from these tests can be 20 to 30 minutes old, so they may not accurately reflect what your blood sugar is and may miss hypoglycemia. This could have dangerous consequences. Use the lancet to draw a blood sample from your finger. Apply the drop of blood to the test area of the test strip.
- Clean your fingertip and make sure the bleeding has stopped after you are finished testing(A band–aid is not necessary).
- Always dispose of the used lancet immediately in a sharps container with a lid. Check with your Department of Health to see their recommendations for proper disposal.
- Record your results in a tracking journal to share with your healthcare provider.
Another useful tool is the A1C test, which shows a “snapshot” of your blood glucose over the past 2 to 3 months. Testing every 3 months will help you and your physician determine how well your blood sugar level has been controlled over the long term. An A1C result of between 6.5% and 7% is optimal.
It’s also recommended that you vary your testing times, taking into account the advice of your physician. Some people may need to test before meals, after meals, or before bed. It’s important that you test more frequently when you travel, become ill, or make any significant changes to your daily routine.
Be aware that many common activities that can have an impact on your blood glucose level. Your numbers are likely to go down when you exercise, take your medications, and drink plenty of water. Alcohol can also make numbers drop, so be careful and eat when you are drinking, if allowed. On the flip side, your glucose levels will usually increase if you’re experiencing stress, pain, illness, injury, or fatigue. Overloading on food or carbohydrates can also cause your numbers to jump.
Monitoring your blood glucose every day is an important way to ensure that your blood sugar levels remain steady. Avoiding highs and lows will keep you feeling healthy and energized. Speak with your physician about the best way to monitor blood glucose for you.